Listening

Captivating, stirring, magnetic, interesting, and refreshing are just a few words to describe my professional interview. Richard Luna is an Associate Minister at Pollard United Methodist Church in Tyler Texas. He spends approximately 8 hours a week in formal counseling, and an additional 6-8 hours in unarranged counseling. Reverend Luna has enough collegiate hours to be a medical doctor. He received his Bachelors degree in Christian Education, then attended seminary, and his next step was receiving two Master degrees consecutively, the first being in Theology, and the second in Professional Counseling. When asked what motivated him to spend so many years in school, he told this intriguing story. When I was at my first assigned church, during my last year of seminary; I was engaged but not yet married. I had a couple come to me for marriage counseling, that were very good friends of my fianc and I. They had been married for 17 years, and I was at a loss for how to help them. I decided I never wanted to have to turn people away again.
The first listening concept discussed in this interview, was that of perception checking. Reverend Luna said this is especially important marriage counseling. Due to an overwhelming amount of miscommunication Perception checking is one of the first things he teaches couples to use, even in pre-marital counseling. Mr. Luna also said If you dont understand what a person is communicating to you, and you go on responding in way that is not appropriate to their purpose, it can become a serious problem in ALL relationships.
The second concept we discussed in this interview, was that of listening barriers. Reverend Lunas advice on listening barriers was to first be able to recognize the barrier, and then try to overcome it. If the barrier cannot be broken, the best thing to do is remove yourself from the communication if possible, because no one is benefiting from it. Mr. Luna did not limit the barriers just to others, but also to himself. He was very open about his urge to talk too much hinders his effectiveness as a listener. Although he feels he is a good listener he feels he would be better, if he could manage his energy to play Mr. Fix It a little less and Mr. Good Listener a little more. The reverend also pointed out another barrier I had not thought of. Specifically to counseling situation, if a person is not willing to be open, and answer questions than he cannot help them. He told of a young woman who came for counseling one afternoon. When he began to ask her specific questions, she would only respond with very generic answers. After about ten minutes of trying to perform the task she initially had asked for, Reverend Luna thought it best she try counseling with someone, and she agreed. Not only does a professional listener need listening skills, but confidence and assertiveness to handle situations such as these.
I learned several important listening issues from this interview. When discussing different types or styles of listening Mr. Luna listed the following; first, sometimes listening can be as simple as being a body for someone to vent to, second, sometimes people just need you to validate their feelings by perception checking and not giving answers. And third, sometimes people want you to listen to a situation and then give sound advice. Reverend Luna that figuring out what kind of listener they want or need is relatively easy. Once you understand what they need the problem usually gets solved whether he says anything or not. Once people verbalize their problems out loud they often recognize the solution and wonder why they couldnt see it before. Other times people come to him with deep spiritual issues with deep spiritual questions and concerns. In these listening situations Mr. Luna gets to talk more!
Reverend Luna also took on a different opinion on mechanical speech. For example when discussing if hi, how are you is an ethical communication he gave this response. As much as it may seem mechanical, thats not always true. Because when you dont say hi how are you then that communicates a whole other